CBC In Depth
Missing in Regina
CBC News Online | April 27, 2006

Tamra Jewel Keepness
Tamra Jewel Keepness was last seen Monday night, July 5, 2004. Regina police and volunteers combed the city and surrounding area, but ended their search a week after she was last seen. Police then refocused their investigation on Tamra's family. Aboriginal leaders vowed to continue their own search for Tamra.

April 26, 2006:
Regina Police Chief Cal Johnston says the department is scaling back its investigation into the disappearance of Tamra Keepness. Johnston says investigators still don't have enough information to lay any charges.
» CBC STORY: Tamra Keepness task force reduced, police chief says

July 5, 2005:
Regina residents walk through Tamra's neighbourhood to mark the anniversary of her disappearance. In the past year, police have followed up on over 1,500 tips and interviewed more than 500 people. Hundreds of police and volunteer searchers have combed the city and surrounding area, but they have come up empty. Tamra�s mother, Lorena Keepness, believes her daughter was abducted and is still alive.
» CBC STORY: 1 year later, the mystery of Tamra Keepness remains unsolved

Sept. 11, 2004:
Saskatchewan police call off their search of the Muscowpetung First Nation reserve.
» CBC STORY: Still no trace of Tamra

Sept. 9, 2004:
Walter William Obey, a 31-year-old man from the Muscowpetung reserve, is charged with stealing a van 10 blocks away from Tamra Keepness's home the night she vanished. Police say they are investigating whether the theft is connected to Tamra's disappearance.
» CBC STORY: Man charged with stealing van near Tamra's home

Sept. 7, 2004:
New information prompts about 30 police and civilian volunteers to search the Muscowpetung First Nation, 65 kilometres northeast of Regina. The area was searched before after the burned-out remains of a van were found there.
» CBC STORY: Police back at reserve in hunt for Tamra

Aug. 20, 2004:
In an interview with CBC News, Tamra's stepfather Dean McArthur says he fears for his safety because police and people in Regina believe he played a role in her disappearance. "That's what I'm scared of – people thinking that I'm guilty," he says. McArthur says he didn't enter the house when he visited, but instead he staggered, extremely drunk, to his aunt's house to sleep on her couch.
» CBC STORY: Tamra's stepfather: 'I would never hurt her'

Aug. 11, 2004:
Tamra's biological father, Troy Keepness, is charged with assault with a weapon for allegedly hitting her stepfather, Dean McArthur, with a baseball bat. McArthur says he wasn't hit and didn't ask for charges to be laid. "It's another misunderstanding," he says.
» CBC STORY: Tamra's father charged with assaulting her stepfather

Aug. 10, 2004:
Russell Sheepskin, who was staying in Tamra's home the night she disappeared, says he saw her sleeping on the couch at 3 a.m., four hours after her mother last reported seeing her. He says he was drinking with Tamra's stepfather, Dean McArthur, that evening, blacked out and woke up in his basement bedroom around 3 a.m. He says there were no other adults in the house and he checked on the six children, including Tamra. Sheepskin alleges McArthur later came home and attacked him on the porch. McArthur has been charged with assault, but the allegation has not been proven in court.
» CBC STORY: Man claims to have seen Tamra 4 hours after last sighting

Aug. 5, 2004:
Tamra's mother, Lorena Keepness, says Guy Lonechild, vice-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, was mistaken when he said that her children were taken by child protection workers in the weeks before Tamra's disappearance. She says that over the past several years, her children have always been in the custody of either her or their father.
» CBC STORY: Tamra's mom denies children taken by social workers

Aug. 4, 2004:
Lonechild says the six Keepness children were under the care of provincial child protection officials until shortly before Tamra's disappearance. Lonechild says the province may not have given enough support to the family when the children were returned.
» CBC STORY: Child welfare system failed Tamra: native leader

Aug. 1, 2004:
After a two-day search, Regina police decide to stop looking for Tamra in the Pasqua aboriginal reserve. Aboriginal volunteers say they'll continue to hunt the six-square-kilometre area, using visions from the community's elders and an American medicine man for guidance.
» CBC STORY: Police stop searching Pasqua reserve for Tamra

July 31, 2004:
Police begin a search of a rural area northeast of Regina, including a provincial park and an aboriginal reserve, after receiving reports of strangers walking through a field in the area asking for directions.
» CBC STORY: Search for Tamra moves out of Regina

July 23, 2004:
Dean McArthur, stepfather of Tamra Keepness, is granted bail after being charged with assault. McArthur says the charge has nothing to do with Tamra's disappearance.
» CBC STORY: Stepfather of missing Regina girl granted bail

July 21, 2004:
Officials from Saskatchewan's Child Protection Branch remove the five remaining children living in Tamra's home. No reason is given for the removal.
» CBC STORY: Children removed from home of missing Regina girl

July 19, 2004:
Police provide a description of two vehicles they believe could help the case: an orange 1973 Volkswagen van and a red and silver GMC pickup truck.

The stepfather of Tamra Keepness, Dean McArthur, is charged with assault causing bodily harm after an incident on the night Tamra disappeared. Police say the victim of the alleged assault was a 33-year-old man who received stitches over his eye.
» CBC STORY: Missing Regina girl's stepdad charged in assault

July 15, 2004:
Saskatchewan becomes the last Canadian province to implement an Amber Alert system. Police say the system would not have helped Tamra. To issue an Amber Alert, police must have evidence the child has been abducted, and a description or licence plate number of the suspected kidnapper.
» CBC STORY: Saskatchewan launches Amber Alert system

July 14, 2004:
Regina police begin to investigate the family of Tamra Jewel Keepness. They say there were unexplained comings and goings on the night she disappeared. Tamra's stepfather, Dean McArthur, says Tamra's mother was not home on the right Tamra disappeared, and the family has become "key targets" of the investigation. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says First Nations volunteers will continue the search for Tamra.
» CBC STORY: Regina police to refocus on Keepness family

July 13, 2004:
Regina police offer a $25,000 reward to anyone providing leads to Tamra's location. But Regina police Chief Cal Johnston says any hope of finding Tamra alive diminishes each day. Police say the search for Tamra will resume if they receive more information, but they've run out of places to look for now.
» CBC STORY: Police offer $25,000 to help find Tamra

July 12, 2004:
Regina police call off the official search for Tamra.

July 11, 2004:
The search is expanded to include the woods and meadows on the city's outskirts. Police confirm that the fruitless search of Wascana Creek was undertaken because of visions from aboriginal elders.
» CBC STORY: Regina girl still missing after six days

July 10, 2004:
Police expand the search for Tamra to include more than 100 blocks east of Regina's downtown core. Cadets from the RCMP training academy join the search.
» CBC STORY: Police continue search for missing Regina girl

July 9, 2004:
Tamra's mother, Lorena Keepness, accuses Regina police of delaying their search for her daughter while they investigated the family. Regina police put another 50 officers on the search and expand the search beyond the nine-block area around Tamra's home.
» CBC STORY: Mother accuses Regina police of delays in search for missing daughter

July 8, 2004:
Police string tape around the house where Tamra lives with her mother and five siblings. Officers remove various items from the home as evidence. Police say there are no signs of struggle or forced entry at the home. More than 20 officers and 30 search-and-rescue volunteers, as well as family and friends, have been searching Regina's streets and back alleys.
» CBC STORY: Regina police search for 5-year-old girl

July 6, 2004:
3 a.m. Russell Sheepskin comes into the bedroom. He's made himself a plate of spaghetti. He can't remember when he got in. He's the only adult in the house. He says he saw Tamra on the couch. Around this time, Dean McArthur returns to check on the kids, allegedly beats up Sheepskin on the porch (he's charged only, not convicted) and leaves. Sheepskin leaves to get stitched up at the hospital and never enters the house again.

3;15 or 3:30 a.m. Lorena Keepness returns, climbs through the window, and falls asleep on the couch. She remains in the house from then until Tamra is reported missing.

Between 3 a.m. and 5 or 5:30 a.m. Dean McArthur claims he's wandering around downtown in a drunken haze looking for his aunt's house. He gets there about 5 or 5:30 and crashes on the couch. He doesn't return home until late the next evening, many hours after Tamra is reported missing.

11:30 a.m. Tamra's family calls police to report her missing.

July 5, 2004:
Tamra is last seen going to bed Monday night.

8:30 p.m. Dean McArthur leaves after an argument with Lorena Keepness. McArthur runs into Russell Sheepskin, they start drinking, sometime during that period. They return briefly to drop off a can of formula for McArthur's daughter, an eight-month-old girl. Then they go to the bar.

11 p.m. Lorena puts the kids to bed and leaves to visit a friend's townhouse. Eleven-year-old Summer Keepness is left in charge. There are no adults in the house.

Midnight. Lorena Keepness drops in at the house briefly to check on the kids. When she gets back to friend's townhouse, calls Summer with the phone number.


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